The Irish poet now residing in the U.S. makes his American debut with verse that celebrates the quotidian--a child's first day at school, a son and mother curling up together, a bird crashing into a window. Grennan's persona goes for a walk and comes home to his children, ``nuzzling them awake / with my rimey beard and the names of birds / I'd seen.'' Birds and other animals are ever-present, treated with a compassion the poet extends to all living creatures. Flies swarming around the ``raspberry''-red belly of a dead rabbit are likened to the animal's lovers. Grennan makes loss as tender as love; without chronicling the nature or process of his separation, the persona finds himself missing his children. ``Daughter Lying Awake,'' told in the voice of a youth learning of her grandfather's death, is a small masterpiece. The sight of a neighbor walking a dog reminds the narrator of his father ``hastening . . . home to the wife / who, when he leaves her behind, will run aground with grief / at being no one in the world.'' (June)
Grennan is an Irish poet whose fascination with nature will make most American readers feel right at home. His milieu is neither the farm nor the deep woods but the fringe areas where nature intersects with civilization: an otter crossing a road, deer grazing on a golf course. Hardly a poem passes without reference to birds, and though Grennan doesn't quite attain the sonorities of Yeats or Heaney, his avian muses inspire him to music often enough (``. . . the morning croon of doves,/ Ululation of jays in the high locust''). Domestic, considered, quiet, this work will not change the face of poetry or enflame our hearts, but in its modest way it illuminates ``. . . this stillness in which we go on happening. ''--Fred Muratori, Cornell Univ. Lib.